Some Chinese cities are relaxing COVID testing mandates

People queue at a nucleic acid testing station following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing, China, June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

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BEIJING, June 24 (Reuters) – Several Chinese cities have scrapped or relaxed their COVID-19 testing mandates after China weathered its worst regional outbreaks, officials being told not to disrupt people’s lives too much while remaining vigilant to stay against the virus.

China, whose economy was hit hard by various COVID restrictions including a lockdown in Shanghai from March to May, faces high stakes to prevent another major outbreak.

It has urged major cities and ports of entry to increase testing capacities to ensure they can detect the highly transmissible Omicron variant as early as possible.

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While cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which still have sporadic cases, require citizens to test themselves every few days, concerns have grown that frequent testing, if widespread across China, could result in a huge financial drain for local governments already squeezed by lower revenues due to slower local economies and massive tax cuts to support businesses.

As of Thursday, mainland China had confirmed 225,434 cases with symptoms. Continue reading

A national health official clarified earlier this month that areas with no infections should not force residents to test themselves regularly.

In eastern Zhejiang province, the cities of Ningbo and Hangzhou, near Shanghai, said that starting Saturday, citizens will be asked to get tested once a week for entering public places and using public transport, instead of the stricter once-three-days -rule before.

Zhejiang province reported fewer than 10 local infections in June.

In eastern Anhui province, which reported dozens of local cases in April and May but none this month, the cities of Hefei and Huainan halted their regular testing campaigns earlier this week.

Dandong, a small northeastern Chinese city near North Korea, said Friday it had lifted some COVID restrictions on trucks as it recently began easing a strict lockdown imposed in late April that sparked anger on social media .

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Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; Edited by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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